Celebrating Life and Death in Ecuador

Celebrating life and death…

A couple of the most important dates in the indigenous calendar are the 1st and 2nd of November, All Saints Day (Todos los Santos) and Day of the Dead (Dia de los Difuntos, o muertos). The ancient belief is that the soul visits its relatives within these days and should have plenty of food to be fed and continue further on its journey to the after life.

The family gets ready for this visit and among the several specialties that they prepare are the “bread dolls”, which have a specific meaning depending on the shape. Horse shaped breads for example means transport. The ritual involves the construction of a tomb that is adorned with the soul’s favourite drink and food and over this tomb they place black cloth and the bread dolls together with several other things that are meaningful to the ritual.

Once the Soul arrives and celebrates with its living relatives, all of them celebrate as well with a big glass of Colada Morada (a purple sweet drink). Then, the ceremony is taken to the local cemetery. The ritual is done for up to three years. It is not continued afterwards. The celebration itself is a mixture of ethnic cultures and Catholic customs. At the present times, as everywhere else, most Ecuadorians celebrate “Día de los Difuntos, o muertos” in a different practical way; just visiting their deceased relatives in the cemetery and adorning their tombs with flowers.

Colada Morada :
1 qt. blueberries (or blackberries or raspberries)
1 can crushed pineapple
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. cloves
2 c. pineapple juice
1/3 c. cornstarch
Cinnamon sticks (opt.)
Simmer berries in a little (1/4 to 1/2 cup) water. Mash and strain. Put berry liquid in a large 6 quart kettle. Add water (to equal 1/2 water – 1/2 juice). Add pineapple and pineapple juice. Mix well and heat thoroughly. Add sugar and spices (adjust amounts to taste). Stir. When mixture reaches simmer, add cornstarch softened in cold water. Mix well. Serve warm. 6 servings. Optional: Serve with cinnamon sticks.

From Toppsa, a Galapagos and Ecuador Travel Provider